(Photo: Blake Benard/WCSN)
For the Arizona State Sun Devils, the mentality heading into their final game was win and get in. The Sun Devils could not match the intensity of the No. 23 Arizona Wildcats and lost in four sets: 20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 21-25.
The game brought even more changes for ASU’s lineup, including starting freshman setter Kylie Pickrell in the front row as an opposite. Also, junior defensive specialist Mia Mazon got the start in the back row.
The first set in the match went to the Wildcats, and for the Sun Devils the absence of junior outside hitter Kalei Mau was a relief, but they could not shut down her replacement. Freshman outside hitter Kendra Dahlke had six kills on 13 attempts with only one error. She would finish with 13 kills for the match.
The second set was back and forth between the two rivals. Both teams making a fair share of errors. Arizona finally gained a little bit of an edge by a score of 17-15, the Wildcats were lead by freshman outside hitter Tyler Spriggs who had seven kills in the match by that point.
On a day in which the Sun Devils offense was off a little bit, they only hit .115 through the first two sets, one bright spot for ASU was junior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell who had half of the team’s kills with 11 through the first two sets.
After some confusion on the last call of the set the Sun Devils finished off the Wildcats 25-23. The Sun Devils went into the break tied in sets with the Wildcats, 1-1.
The Sun Devils defense was also not its normal level today either. The team ranks seventh in the country in blocks per set with 2.99 per set.
The Sun Devils could not maintain the momentum gained after winning the second set. The Wildcats jumped out to a 17-11 lead behind a .280 hitting percentage in the set.
ASU made a push at the end of the set forcing the Wildcats into five late hitting errors to close the gap, but a service error by Pickrell handed the set win to Arizona, 25-22.
Starting the fourth set the Sun Devils seemed a bit frantic feeling the weight of their season pressing on this match. Arizona took an early 12-9 lead behind five ASU hitting errors.
The Sun Devils block came alive in the fourth set quickly putting up three blocks, but still the Wildcats were able to find ways to put the ball down on the court.
It was a scary moment when Arizona took a 20-16 lead. Not only were the Sun Devils seeing the season slip away from them, but senior middle blocker Mercedes Binns took a hard hit to her head and fell to the floor. It seems as if she was okay, but the team trainers kept a close eye on her.
The Sun Devils made a push at the end of the set, but ultimately could not catch up to the Wildcats in the end. A night plagued with errors may be the last game that the Sun Devils will play all season.
This Sunday it will be official whether or not ASU will make the cut for the national tournament. The Sun Devils finish the regular season with a record of 19-12.
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Jacob Franklin via twitter @Jacob_Franklin4 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.